14 April 2005 | Cara Whitehouse
A new forum to improve relations between IT users and suppliers is launched on Wednesday.
The Strategic Supplier Relationship Group (SSRG) aims to lobby suppliers such as IBM and Microsoft on user issues.
Suppliers can also use the forum to poll users on proposed changes to contracts.
The SSRG consists of 10 user groups, including the Society for IT Management, the IBM Computer Users' Association and the Corporate IT Forum.
"Until now, there has not been a generic IT interests group across all IT vendors. By bringing the 10 groups together we pack a big punch," said Ray Titcombe, acting chairman of the SSRG and chairman of the IBM Computer Users' Association.
David Clayden, chairman of the Charities Consortium IT Directors' Group, another member, added: "The SSRG aims to open channels of communication.
"We can take issues to suppliers and get things simplified. An SSRG standard contract, for example, could save time and hassle."
Ken Cole, chairman of the CIPS information systems committee and partner at consultancy Strategic Procurement Services, is optimistic about the venture.
"Many firms do not buy IT well, while many suppliers force firms to buy packages with things they don't need. If it can address those issues, I welcome it."
But he warned that the SSRG must be more than "a talking shop" and actually achieve results.
John Hatton, director of consultancy TradingPartners, was more sceptical: "There needs to be a change, but this is not necessarily the way to do it. Good purchasing practice is the most important factor and learning those skills is a more valuable use of time."
But he added that it would be beneficial to air difficulties through the SSRG.